Why isn't a Rapier a Light Weapon, again?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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hogarth wrote:
Warforged Gardener wrote:
Sickles are light weapons and that seems like it would be an awkward thing to dual-wield(and the Pathfinder picture of the kukri looks like a wider, marginally smaller scimitar, but that could just be the art).

I was looking at the picture of the kukri yesterday, and I thought to myself "(not to scale)".

:-)

Warforged Gardener wrote:
Which feat?
I think the implication is that a light weapon that did 1d6 damage with a 18-20 critical would be an exotic weapon.

I have a real kukri (a gift from a friend who worked with an ex-ghurkan) and its almost that big. It's almost a sword by itself. (And the skinning knives are pretty cool too)


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Just my 2 cents,

TWF for the fencing style was less popular because you would present your full body to gain reach with both arms while a single weapon can be used while only presenting your side which is easier to protect with parrying and/or controlling the center line of the fight (usually one on one).

The Rapier/Main-Gauche or Cloak was the style I am most aware of but if you would like to go for a double weapon style I would suggest going with a pair of *Fleuret* (the rapier's little bother) using the kukri's stats but as piercing weapons, maybe a bit lighter.


Warforged Gardener wrote:
I apologize if this has been covered before, but I'm trying to figure out why rapiers are considered light weapons for the purposes of Weapon Finesse but aren't actually light weapons. Given that they have the same weight as most light weapons, similar damage, ...

A rapier has a better crit range than a short sword. Generally, going from light weapon to one-handed weapon involves increase the damage dice one step. For example, a short sword does 1d6/19-20 and is light, while a long sword does 1d8/19-20 and is one-handed. Alternately, you can increase the crit range. That's the main difference between a short sword and a rapier.

Allowing the rapier to be finessable is strange from a rule balance perspective. (I'll admit it makes a lot of sense from a fluff/flavor perspective.) If you are using Weapon Finesse, you probably don't have a huge strength, so you're missing out on that source of damage and you have a smaller weapon damage size than normal for the type of weapon. So possibly allowing Weapon Finesse is reasonable. (I'm certainly not aware of vast complaints about how the rapier is broken.)


Hogarth wrote:
I think the implication is that a light weapon that did 1d6 damage with a 18-20 critical would be an exotic weapon.

^^THIS. This right here. This is why Rapiers are not light, off hand weapons. Not flavor, not illustration, but simple, cold mechanics. The same reason a scimitar is not a light, off hand weapon. 18-20 crit range for a martial weapon means a smaller damage die as a trade off.

If the Rapier was considered a light weapon, nobody would ever use a short sword, dagger, scimitar, etc. ever again (except for flavor). Sorry for being so blunt but after 50+ posts of flavor debate after someone already stated the reason, I wanted to say something.

*EDIT Credit to Udalrich for stating the above first, and better. Mine is simply for emphasis!


Ï think that the Count of Monte Christo (2002 adaptation) would be a good material to see the rapier (or something close to it, if there are people who'd correct me if I'm not right) in action. Of course that seeing it is good even for other reasons ;)


Zmar wrote:
Ï think that the Count of Monte Christo (2002 adaptation) would be a good material to see the rapier (or something close to it, if there are people who'd correct me if I'm not right) in action. Of course that seeing it is good even for other reasons ;)

Those are smallswords, not rapiers.

Kirth Gersen wrote:
There is also a great deal of confusion in people's minds between a long rapier, and the much smaller, faster, and later-developed smallsword (the latter of which probably would qualify as a light weapon, and actually fits the elven lightblade thing pretty well). A lot of the "rapiers" you see in movies are actually smallswords.


Jandrem wrote:
Hogarth wrote:
I think the implication is that a light weapon that did 1d6 damage with a 18-20 critical would be an exotic weapon.

^^THIS. This right here. This is why Rapiers are not light, off hand weapons. Not flavor, not illustration, but simple, cold mechanics. The same reason a scimitar is not a light, off hand weapon. 18-20 crit range for a martial weapon means a smaller damage die as a trade off.

If the Rapier was considered a light weapon, nobody would ever use a short sword, dagger, scimitar, etc. ever again (except for flavor). Sorry for being so blunt but after 50+ posts of flavor debate after someone already stated the reason, I wanted to say something.

*EDIT Credit to Udalrich for stating the above first, and better. Mine is simply for emphasis!

Actually I disagree. The very length of a rapier means that it is harder to use than a short sword, dagger, any of the light weapons. A rapier averages in blade length from 42 inches to 48 inches -- as long as a longsword or some bastard swords. The only reason it's a different weapon is the drastic changes in the blade -- not as sharp, smaller, and with a better designed thrusting tip.

In no way is this a light weapon in use, practice, or mechanics.


Abraham spalding wrote:
The very length of a rapier means that it is harder to use than a short sword, dagger, any of the light weapons. A rapier averages in blade length from 42 inches to 48 inches -- as long as a longsword or some bastard swords. The only reason it's a different weapon is the drastic changes in the blade -- not as sharp, smaller, and with a better designed thrusting tip. In no way is this a light weapon in use, practice, or mechanics.

Which is why the smallsword and the rapier are, and should be, two different weapons...


Kirth Gersen wrote:
Which is why the smallsword and the rapier are, and should be, two different weapons...

Complete agreement. It's a shame a smallsword isn't in the book, but if I were to assign mechanics to it I would probably go with a kukri that does (p) damage, and has the disarm quality.


Abraham spalding wrote:
Complete agreement. It's a shame a smallsword isn't in the book, but if I were to assign mechanics to it I would probably go with a kukri that does (p) damage, and has the disarm quality.

That would work pretty well. Alternatively, I've been going with "light rapier" stats, but making it an Exotic weapon (so that it suprecedes that "elven lightblade" thing or whatever it is).

Sovereign Court

Jandrem wrote:

If the Rapier was considered a light weapon, nobody would ever use a short sword, dagger, scimitar, etc. ever again (except for flavor). Sorry for being so blunt but after 50+ posts of flavor debate after someone already stated the reason, I wanted to say something.

*EDIT Credit to Udalrich for stating the above first, and better. Mine is simply for emphasis!

You can be as blunt as you like, but I think the 50+ posts generated on the subject should be a strong indication that "simple, cold mechanics" are not and never have been the sole reason for anything. If they were, it wouldn't be a roleplaying game. I'm not trying to restart a very old argument here(one that long predates this thread and has yielded two very different styles of gaming), but I can't disagree strongly enough. I think that mechanics are a factor, but they are not the sole factor and it's a little silly to claim otherwise.

Someone in this very same thread pointed out earlier that the kukri used to be an exotic weapon(rightfully so by your reasoning), but was upgraded because of its popularity. It has not completely replaced the dagger(and never could, as the dagger is a simple weapon and has a throwing range), although it certainly shows up in a lot of enemy statblocks in spite of flavor considerations. Your points are well-made, but your absolute certainty in your argument is misplaced.

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies

Jandrem wrote:
Hogarth wrote:
I think the implication is that a light weapon that did 1d6 damage with a 18-20 critical would be an exotic weapon.
^^THIS. This right here. This is why Rapiers are not light

Mechanically, you need to balance all weapons based on their features. If you want a Light Rapier, use the mechanical stats of the Short Sword for the Rapier.


I haven't quite read everything, some of the information might be redundant.

Anyway, I think the rapier's in the right place. This weapon should not be used as an off-hand weapon. It would look even sillier than dual-wielding shields while wearing spiked armour, and we all know how silly that looks!

So yes, you can use it with weapon finesse, because it is light, but two rapiers are right out.

I can also see them being used with power attack, really drilling a hole into the enemy.

Majuba wrote:
For what it's worth, the Kukri was exotic in 3.0. It was moved to martial in 3.5, probably b/c it was too popular.

Actually, the kukri was moved for other reasons:

In 3.0, it was a tiny weapon, and for a tiny weapon, the stats were too good to be anything but exotic.

In 3.5, it became just a light weapon, and its stats are fine for a light martial weapon.

To illustrate: In 3.0, they were the same size as daggers, smaller than short swords. As tiny weapons, they could serve as off-hand weapons even for halflings, just like a dagger, and unlike a short sword.

In 3.5, they're basically the same category as a short sword. If you are a halfling, your kukris will deal 1d3, while your short sword will deal 1d4 - and both will be light weapons.

Warforged Gardener wrote:
Sickles are light weapons and that seems like it would be an awkward thing to dual-wield

Kamas (oriental sickle-like weapons) are traditionally wielded in pairs. Call it Preying Mantis Style, if you will.

The Exchange

Warforged Gardener wrote:
Jandrem wrote:

If the Rapier was considered a light weapon, nobody would ever use a short sword, dagger, scimitar, etc. ever again (except for flavor). Sorry for being so blunt but after 50+ posts of flavor debate after someone already stated the reason, I wanted to say something.

*EDIT Credit to Udalrich for stating the above first, and better. Mine is simply for emphasis!

You can be as blunt as you like, but I think the 50+ posts generated on the subject should be a strong indication that "simple, cold mechanics" are not and never have been the sole reason for anything. If they were, it wouldn't be a roleplaying game. I'm not trying to restart a very old argument here(one that long predates this thread and has yielded two very different styles of gaming), but I can't disagree strongly enough. I think that mechanics are a factor, but they are not the sole factor and it's a little silly to claim otherwise.

Someone in this very same thread pointed out earlier that the kukri used to be an exotic weapon(rightfully so by your reasoning), but was upgraded because of its popularity. It has not completely replaced the dagger(and never could, as the dagger is a simple weapon and has a throwing range), although it certainly shows up in a lot of enemy statblocks in spite of flavor considerations. Your points are well-made, but your absolute certainty in your argument is misplaced.

While mechanics are definitely a factor, I think with WOTC the cold hard mechanics are the only reason they did it. (I just don't think we can credit Wizards with an overabundance of thought on the matter... or much else, for that matter.) HOWEVER, I am a long time fencer, and would have to agree that the length of the blade just makes it to unseemly to use in an off-hand twf manner. (I have tried.) and the fact that the style with which you fight with a foil or an epee, makes it almost useless, if not a hindrance, to fight with another foil or epee in the off-hand. Also, your off-hand is just too far away from the enemy, and unnecessarily exposes more of your target area to them than is advisable. Hence, I agree that it is not a light weapon for the purposes of twf. I also agree, that mechanics aren't the only reason Paizo didn't put it in the light weapons category and that power attack with it represents aiming the attack better for slightly more damage.

Sovereign Court

Kaspar Copper wrote:


While mechanics are definitely a factor, I think with WOTC the cold hard mechanics are the only reason they did it. (I just don't think we can credit Wizards with an overabundance of thought in the matter.) HOWEVER, I am a long time fencer, dam near a decade and a half, I would have to agree that the length of the blade just makes it to unseemly to use in an off-hand twf manner. (I have tried.) and the fact that the style with which you fight with a foil or an epee, makes it almost useless, if not a hindrance, to fight with another foil or epee in the off-hand. Also, your...

One of the best unintended consequences of starting this thread is that people have chimed in with their real world experience with similar weapons and fighting styles. It might be very worthwhile to start another thread and find out the ways that actual two-weapon fighting is paralleled by the mechanics of the game.

(dual-wielding piercing weapons seems logically untenable though historically accurate for a handful of fencers, but what of the rapier/short sword combination that is mechanically sound but seems questionable aesthetically?)

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Warforged Gardener wrote:
Kaspar Copper wrote:


One of the best unintended consequences of starting this thread is that people have chimed in with their real world experience with similar weapons and fighting styles. It might be very worthwhile to start another thread and find out the ways that actual two-weapon fighting is paralleled by the mechanics of the game.

(dual-wielding piercing weapons seems logically untenable though historically accurate for a handful of fencers, but what of the rapier/short sword combination that is mechanically sound but seems questionable aesthetically?)

Traditionally, it was not rapier/short sword, it was a Rapier with a dagger with an extended crossbar called a parrying dagger... but in terms of game mechanics, it would be more like using a Rapier/Dagger combination with the dagger primarily just being used to parry. But it does seem like once everybody started using that style it would make more sense just to stick with only the rapier... again, target areas etc.


It also depends on the time period for the rapiers in question. Early rapiers had cutting edges and a thicker blade, while later rapiers had a thinner blade and no cutting edges.

Sovereign Court

Kaspar Copper 223 wrote:


Traditionally, it was not rapier/short sword, it was a Rapier with a dagger with an extended crossbar called a parrying dagger... but in terms of game mechanics, it would be more like using a Rapier/Dagger combination with the dagger primarily just being used to parry. But it does seem like once everybody started using that style it would make more sense just to stick with only the rapier... again, target areas etc.

To date, I've only ever seen one feat designed to emulate the advantages of a single one-handed weapon like a rapier with nothing in the off-hand: Einhander from... I think it was Player's Handbook II. I don't know if it accurately captured single-weapon fighting, but it seemed interesting.

The Rapier/Parrying Dagger combination is described in a supplement I saw on Nick Logue's Sinister Adventures website--The Art of the Duel, I think it was--along with some interesting feat chains designed to capture the essence of actual two-weapon fighting.

I'm torn between thinking that more sophisticated fighting styles would improve the game and thinking that two-weapon fighting is simplified to its current state because the rules can't easily support something more sophisticated than attack-or-combat maneuver without becoming unwieldy(the old grapple rules) or unbalanced(substituting a parry/disarm maneuver for an offhand attack).

The Exchange

Warforged Gardener wrote:


I'm torn between thinking that more sophisticated fighting styles would improve the game and thinking that two-weapon fighting is simplified to its current state because the rules can't easily support something more sophisticated than attack-or-combat maneuver without becoming unwieldy(the old grapple rules) or unbalanced(substituting a parry/disarm maneuver for an offhand attack).

I think when WOTC had it, they just didn't want to deal with the complications that would imply, However with Paizo I think it was more about balance and not getting needlessly complicated. However, with the twf, I think that's where the two-weapon defense came in... But as for the single weapon fighting, I think that's what the duelist prestige class is for... however, the duelist always kinda struck me as needing you to be a bit too advanced for... Needless to say I am REALLY looking forward to Pathfinder coming out with the Swashbuckler base class because that's how I was taught to be a fighter. I just can't comprehend needing to be such a high level to be able to do something so simple as parrying a blade, you know.


Kaspar Copper 223 wrote:


I think when WOTC had it, they just didn't want to deal with the complications that would imply, However with Paizo I think it was more about balance and not getting needlessly complicated. However, with the twf, I think that's where the two-weapon defense came in... But as for the single weapon fighting, I think that's what the duelist prestige class is for... however, the duelist always kinda struck me as needing you to be a bit too advanced for... Needless to say I am REALLY looking forward to Pathfinder coming out with the Swashbuckler base class because that's how I was taught to be a fighter. I just can't comprehend needing to be such a high level to be able to do something so simple as parrying a blade, you know.

Well, I remember reading in the sword-fighting manuals of John Clements that he generally discouraged, when dealing with one-hand cruciform swords (the D&D 'longsword'), parrying with the blade. By his method, it was preferable to either use your shield (that's what it was for, after all) or dodge out of the line of the cut. Parrying with the blade was discouraged because a) it got you out of the habit of outright avoiding your opponent's weapon, and b) you could damage your own blade in doing so. With two-handed sword fighting, the parrierhakken (Parrying hooks) were designed to trap your opponent's blade so obviously blocking the enemy's swing was part of the design. Since most rapiers had no cutting edge, there was no risk in striking an opponent's blade with your own and indeed was the most effective way of deflecting a thrust. Likewise, a rapier would be grabbed with gloved hands or caught by a cloak or even by various parts of clothing.

The classic Three Musketeers "slashing rapier" was a 'cut and thrust' sword, or side-sword. Indeed, it is this weapon, paired with a buckler that coined the term 'swashbuckler'.


There is a really nice reproduction edition of three Elizabethan fencing manuals by Di Grassi, Saviolo, and Silver. Saviolo covers rapiers and a variety of secondary weapons (dagger, gauntlet, cloak, bullseye lantern, etc.) as well as cased (dual) rapiers (the most difficult fencing style you could pick) and the ettiquette of the duel. Di Grassi's "True Art of Defence" is more general (and I think useful) and includes the battlefield weapons of the day (polearms, two handed swords, etc.) as well as rapiers. Silver advocates broadsword and buckler (traditional sword and shield) style as superior. Between them you get a good overview of the various styles and weapons extant in that period.

As many other have mentioned, the Elizabethan rapier is anything but a light weapon. The blade length kept increasing in a kind of "arms race" to outreach the opponent until they reached rediculous proportions (48" plus). It was all about timing your thrust. Once committed you weren't going to stop easily, which is why a number of off hand weapons / technigues were suggested by the fencing masters of the day for defence. Parrying with a weapon as long and unbalanced as one of these wasn't easy. The rapier superceded sword and shield fighting mainly as a matter of style and the decline of armoured combat btw, not effectiveness in combat per se. Gunpowder had reduced the relative importance of the sword and made armor less effective and less worn. Using a rapier against a fully armoured opponent wasn't all that good an idea.

The whole evolution of weapons from medieval swords to Elizabethan rapiers to the lighter court and small swords that most people associate with "rapier" takes place in the shadow of gunpowder weapons. Without gunpowder that style of weapon would not have become as dominant / widespread. It might have developed for use in "civilian" situations, like in court or when unarmoured but it would have been unusual on the battlefield. My 2 cp of course, ymmv. If you want to watch experts argue, this is a good topic btw. Everyone has an opinion.


It's rather funny but if you start looking you quickly realize that there are as many European schools of martial arts as there is oriental, and generally they cover a lot of the same points in different ways.


Abraham spalding wrote:
It's rather funny but if you start looking you quickly realize that there are as many European schools of martial arts as there is oriental, and generally they cover a lot of the same points in different ways.

The main reason why European martial arts are less well known was that less of the masters' teaching were preserved due to the relatively lower rate of literacy in Europe, and the lack of wanting to preserve archaic techniques no longer applicable on the battlefield.


Lyingbastard wrote:
Abraham spalding wrote:
It's rather funny but if you start looking you quickly realize that there are as many European schools of martial arts as there is oriental, and generally they cover a lot of the same points in different ways.
The main reason why European martial arts are less well known was that less of the masters' teaching were preserved due to the relatively lower rate of literacy in Europe, and the lack of wanting to preserve archaic techniques no longer applicable on the battlefield.

And Chuck Norris.

The Exchange

Lyingbastard wrote:


Well, I remember reading in the sword-fighting manuals of John Clements that he generally discouraged, when dealing with one-hand cruciform swords (the D&D 'longsword'), parrying with the blade. By his method, it was preferable to either use your shield (that's what it was for, after all) or dodge out of the line of the cut. Parrying with the blade was discouraged because a) it got you out of the habit of outright avoiding your opponent's weapon, and b) you could damage your own blade in doing so. With two-handed sword fighting, the parrierhakken (Parrying hooks) were designed to trap your opponent's blade so obviously blocking the enemy's swing was part of the design. Since most rapiers had no cutting edge, there was no risk in striking an opponent's blade with your own and indeed was the most effective way of deflecting a thrust. Likewise, a rapier would be grabbed with gloved hands or caught by a cloak or even by various parts of clothing.

The classic Three Musketeers "slashing rapier" was a 'cut and thrust' sword, or side-sword. Indeed, it is this weapon, paired with a buckler that coined the term 'swashbuckler'.

The slashing rapier is actually, or at least can be likened to, a fencing sabre, and with that you could definitely parry other blades as long as you did it right, using the side of the blade, and not the cutting edge... I guess I should have said single weapon fighting with a piercing weapon, as the Duelist practically relies on having one; and not an edged weapon.


Kaspar Copper 223 wrote:
Lyingbastard wrote:


Well, I remember reading in the sword-fighting manuals of John Clements that he generally discouraged, when dealing with one-hand cruciform swords (the D&D 'longsword'), parrying with the blade. By his method, it was preferable to either use your shield (that's what it was for, after all) or dodge out of the line of the cut. Parrying with the blade was discouraged because a) it got you out of the habit of outright avoiding your opponent's weapon, and b) you could damage your own blade in doing so. With two-handed sword fighting, the parrierhakken (Parrying hooks) were designed to trap your opponent's blade so obviously blocking the enemy's swing was part of the design. Since most rapiers had no cutting edge, there was no risk in striking an opponent's blade with your own and indeed was the most effective way of deflecting a thrust. Likewise, a rapier would be grabbed with gloved hands or caught by a cloak or even by various parts of clothing.

The classic Three Musketeers "slashing rapier" was a 'cut and thrust' sword, or side-sword. Indeed, it is this weapon, paired with a buckler that coined the term 'swashbuckler'.

The slashing rapier is actually, or at least can be likened to, a fencing sabre, and with that you could definitely parry other blades as long as you did it right, using the side of the blade, and not the cutting edge... I guess I should have said single weapon fighting with a piercing weapon, as the Duelist practically relies on having one; and not an edged weapon.

The sabre as used in combat would be closer to a scimitar than a rapier, because a sabre is designed primarily for cutting from horseback. It would have little if anything in common with the sabre used in sports fencing and would be used entirely differently.

The Exchange

Chris Parker wrote:
Kaspar Copper 223 wrote:


The slashing rapier is actually, or at least can be likened to, a FENCING SABRE, and with that you could definitely parry other blades as long as you did it right, using the side of the blade, and not the cutting edge... I guess I should have said single weapon fighting with a piercing weapon, as the Duelist practically relies on having one; and not an edged weapon.

The sabre as used in combat would be closer to a scimitar than a rapier, because a sabre is designed primarily for cutting from horseback. It would have little if anything in common with the sabre used in sports fencing and would be used entirely differently.

I don't think it's entirely different. After all, the fencing sabre did evolve from the sabre that was used by cavalry. That's why the target area for sabres in fencing is anything above the waste. Really, the only difference is the integrity of the blade for parrying. With cavalry sabres, you didn't really have to worry about parrying, because it was all ride-by attacks, and generally you either hit an opponent or you didn't. If you managed to pull off a parry, it was likely either blade would be useless thereafter. But no one said anything about dual wielding rapiers on horseback, so I would assume that it was a given that we weren't talking about cavalry sabres.

Well, in terms of game combat either being used as a scimitar or a slashing rapier, the mechanics would pretty much be the same. (1d6 slashing damage, 18-20/x2) really, the difference would be in the weight. The Fencing Sabre, in terms of game mechanics, for Pathfinder, should probably be something along the lines of the same stats as a rapier, but you could use it for piercing OR slashing. But if we're looking at this from a 3.5 standpoint (as detailed by Arms & Armor) it is EXACTLY the same as the rapier. Same price, weight, damage, crit. range and multiplier EXCEPT that it IS a light weapon, and it STILL does piercing damage, which brings us all the way back to where this thread began... And finally answers why rapiers aren't light weapons, btw... Wow; and I purely mean this as a jab at myself, and no one else; it's amazing how far a little research goes by just looking at one book for a few seconds... :)

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